AUGUSTA — For the seventh time since the start of the 2013 season, Skowhegan will play for the Class A state softball championship.

The second-seeded River Hawks pounded their way to a 9-4 win over No. 8 Bangor in the Class A North final Thursday night at Cony Family Field. Junior catcher Emily Dunbar went 3 for 4 with a home run and three runs batted in as part of Skowhegan’s 13-hit attack. Shortstop Jaycie Christopher went 3 for 4 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored.

Skowhegan will face Biddeford for the Class A title on Saturday at 4 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College in Standish.

“The bond that we all have is really close,” Dunbar said. “It’s amazing how it all came together for all of us.”

In all, every spot in the River Hawk lineup reached base at least once, seven of the spots generated hits and seven others plated runs.

It was a complete offensive effort that saw Skowhegan, the 2014 state champion, race out to a 9-0 lead through four innings.

“We were able to find a way to get to the finish line,” said Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson. “We swung the bats pretty good today. We’ve hit the ball well most of the year, no question about it. We can also pitch and play defense usually.”

Bangor’s Cinderella run threatened to continue for two more days despite the big early deficit.

The Rams scored a single run in the fifth and then pushed three unearned runs across in the sixth to make it 9-4.

Skowhegan’s Madalynne Morris, left holding ball, hugs teammate Riley Fitzpatrick after the river Hawks defeated Bangor 9-4 in the Class A North title game Thursday night at Cony High School. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“We knew we were going to have to play our best for seven straight innings,” said Bangor coach Doug Stanhope, whose squad had its season interrupted by COVID-10 quarantine three times before winning a first round game and then knocking off No. 1 Messalonskee in the quarterfinals. “We’ve battled with three or four good teams at the end of this season where they got ahead and we came back. We knew we had it in us if we just didn’t run out of innings.”

Skowhegan pitcher Sierra Carey was outstanding for the most part on Thursday.

Carey, a sophomore, tossed a two-hitter with nine strikeouts, at one point retiring seven in a row from the second through fourth innings.

“We were just thinking way too far ahead of the game,” Carey said of the sixth. “After we got in the dugout, we just settled ourselves down.”

Only one of the runs allowed by Carey was earned, and even that came in the fifth after Bangor’s Cassidy Ireland struck out and reached on a wild pitch, stole second, went to third on another wild pitch and came home on Rae Barron’s groundout to short.

“I thought of it as another game, and I went into it 100% — 110%,” Carey said.

“Her changeup was really good tonight, which helped us a lot,” Dunbar said of Carey. “Her fastball inside wasn’t working very well. I told her when we went out for the (pre-game) huddle, so I told her just to focus on that and we’d get it together and she’d be fine.”’

Skowhegan’s Jaycie Christopher, right, slides safely into second before Bangor shortstop Jenna Smith can make a tag during the Class A North championship Thursday at Cony Family Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Dunbar’s double down the left field line drove in a pair of runs in a three-run first for Skowhegan, and her solo homer to left in the third made it 4-0.

Skowhegan added four more in the fourth, with consecutive RBI hits from Carey, Riley Fitzpatrick and Madalynne Morris.

“I’d been in a slump for a little bit,” Dunbar said. “At practice, I really focused on my swing this week. It paid off.”

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